DAVID LEGA - Deputy Mayor of Gothenburg


David Lega was born in 1973 in Gothenburg, Sweden with the odds stacked against him.  He was born with AMC, a serious disability which means he was paralysed in both arms and lacked muscles in his legs.  The doctors told his parents that it was unlikely that he’d ever be able to sit up by himself without support.

But David started training when he was just a few months old, and succeeded in sitting before he was two years old.  Throughout his years in a mainstream school in Gothenburg, David continued training and alternated physical therapy with all kinds of handicapped sports.  In 1986, when David was 12, he watched the World Championships in Disabled Swimming in Gothenburg.  That kindled a spark in David which has never died, especially after he met the swimmer Peter Hull, who became one of his major heroes and role models.  Hull is a double arm and leg amputated swimmer from Britain who won a world championship medal that year.  ‘If I can, so can you,’ said Peter Hull.  Just weeks later, David joined his first training session at Mölndals ASS to learn to swim.

A silver medal at the junior world championships in St Etienne in 1990 was followed by a sixth place at the World Championships in Malta in 1994.  1996 saw his big breakthrough at the Paralympics in Atlanta.  Thanks to setting two world records during the games, he was awarded the ’Triumph of the Human Spirit’.  After Atlanta David won three World Championship gold medals, four European Championship gold and 14 world records before deciding to retire from his successful swimming career. David concluded his career as an elite swimmer in the national disabled team after the Paralympics in Sydney 2000.  He won three gold medals and two silver medals during the World Championships 1998, with new world records in two of the events.

David won many honours and medals during his career, but the highest point was in 2001 when he was awarded H.M The King’s Medal in the 8th size, with blue ribbon, for his success in sporting achievements.   
H.M. The King’s Medal is presented to Swedish and foreign citizens for special merit.  

At the same time as he was competing in swimming, David started his career as a speaker about personal development and positive thinking.  Later on he added talks about entrepreneurship and leadership.  Over the years David has inspired hundreds of thousands of people internationally, and his speaking career has been as successful as his swimming.  In 2004 he was named Speaker of the Year in Sweden.  In 2005 he was named as one of the Leaders of the Future as well as receiving the honour of being the first Swede to be named The Outstanding Young Person of the World.  Previous winners of the award include Orson Welles, Leonard Bernstein, Elvis Presley and John F Kennedy.